It’s been a little over a month since I went to my last Moth StorySlam and I am jonesing for a fix. I miss the energy of the room, hearing people’s stories, wondering if my name will be called. I knew when I decided to attend a few night classes that meant I would have to put the Moth aside for a few months, and I knew I would miss it, I just wasn’t expecting how much and so fast.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing the second to last Moth StorySlam story I prepared before my little hiatus. The topic of the night was “Obsession” and many girls and women graced the stage to talk about their romantic obsessions. And I would have felt lame if my story was exactly like theirs, except mine, wasn’t about my romantic obsession, but the other girl who was equally obsessed with him.
In the past two years, with all the wedding planning, Dan and I haven’t gone on as many adventures as we would like to take. So when we were invited to a wedding in Napa this year, we went full road trip status. I splurged on a new vlog camera and we made sure to make time for some roadside attractions.
Yesterday, as I scrolled through the train wreck… not even, the nuclear meltdown that was #FyreFestival, I was overcome with shame for every time I complained the vegetarian options outside of VIP sucked at Coachella. Dan and I survived working the Coachella record store another year and have officially decided not to do it again; we even bought hoodies as a commemorative souvenir. Coachella is an emotionally and physically exhausting event to work, and I’m still getting over my Coachella induced cold. But Coachella overall is an amazing festival that really takes care of its attendees. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to create a great experience for those that attend the festival, that to complain about any of it just shows the amount of delusion us first world people live in (and I’m super guilty). Anyways, one of the little details you’ve probably never thought about when it comes to festival production is ‘pest’ control. I’ve been to Coachella five times and not once did it occur to me they have an onsite beekeeper to remove hives until I sat down to dinner with him. The Coachella Beekeeper.
Dan and I like to retreat to catering where there is an oasis of iced tea, fruit infused water, and a dessert bar. It also has buffet food for those working in production and have an artist pass, but we don’t get access to that. Anyways, as Dan and I went to catering to rest our weary legs and drink some free cold beverages, I sat down at a table with a friendly looking guy. Since I don’t have permission to use his name, he will be referred to as Mr. B.
Mr. B looked like an old rock dude with shoulder length hair. Out of curiosity and polite dinner conversation I asked what he did for the festival. Mr. B then proceeded to tell me he relocated beehives. I was shocked and excited. My face lit up! We then went on to talk about the dwindling bee population and how he got into bee removal. He grew up in Colorado and started beekeeping at the age of 12. Later, when he moved out to Palm Springs in his early twenties, he was working as a waiter when the opportunity to remove a beehive came up. With the experience he had from his days of beekeeping in Colorado, he attempted to remove the hive and was successful. He immediately saw a business opportunity and never went back to waiting tables again. For the last 30 years, he’s been relocating hives from businesses and buildings to his farm where the hives can thrive in safety.
I loved talking about bees with Mr. B, who had removed at least five different hives from the festival grounds. Coachella bee removal, a logistical element I would have never thought of, but this pro-festival has it on lock. Mr. B also worked Desert Trip, and his eyes lit up when talking about meeting Mick Jagger.
It was an awesome and unexpected interaction. I wasn’t even going to share this story until I read about the Titanic failure of Fyre Festival. Production is not an easy job, and Coachella really runs a tight ship. So this is 1) me sharing about the most interesting man I met at Coachella, 2) a giant apology for ever complaining about anything, 3) a massive thank you to the amazing people that coordinate an experience for 125,000 people.
** p.s. Before anyone makes a comment about Coachella funding hate groups because you saw a viral video. Please see the below comment I made on another friend’s Facebook post.
We seriously had VIP Access to some of the best petroglyphs in Utah, along with the amazing views of Natural Bridges.
I have a friend who is a park ranger. She is still at the start of her career, so she will jump from site to site until finding a permanent position. But the year Dan and I were driving around the country, she was working at Natural Bridges National Monument. I’d never heard of the place, but as I love nature and free lodging, we decided to spend a few nights with her.
Hiking is fun, but hiking with a park ranger is a flipping bad ass adventure! Without my friend, we would have hiked around the park following designated trails and such, seeing the sites but never going deep in the canyons. With my friend, we were opened up to a whole new world of Ancient Puebloans architecture and petroglyphs. My imagination swirls drawing up scenes of the Puebloan people carving their stories into the stone, messages for their community. We picked up two small books on deciphering the symbols, that I have tucked away somewhere, so well hidden I’m not sure where they are located. Perhaps I should have made a petroglyph map to them on my bedroom wall. (oh, the jokes!)
We seriously had VIP Access to some of the best petroglyphs in Utah, along with the amazing views of Natural Bridges. I’d love to return and explore more, this time in better shape. When we went I was way less fit than I am now. When I bemoaned I was in pain, my park ranger friend asked what I had hurt very concerned, I informed her oh nothing – I’m just severely out of shape. This trip also inspired Dan and I’s New Year Morning hike tradition. We were so inspired by the beautiful scenery and burn from the hike, we really felt alive. We feel the rush is the best way to start a new year.
Here are the photos from our awesome VIP hike.
The above image is the view from the ground of where the large collection of petroglyphs are hidden.
I love Santa Fe and I long for it in the golden hours of the morning, Santa Fe my old friend.
When I woke up in Santa Fe, I gazed out our hotel window on the desert scenery and watched the sun heat the earth. It was a soft blue morning and I could feel Santa Fe’s unique peaceful energy. From the moment we arrived the people were sassy but kind, everyone had an approachable vibe about them. One of my favorite moments was when the cashier at Whole Foods remarked that the residents of Santa Fe are all a bit kookie. A city filled with kookie people like myself. I daydream about returning for a sabbatical spending my days writing, painting, going to yoga and enjoying the delicious food.
Santa Fe was one of the most delicious cities I’ve ever been too. I can’t recall the specifics of the amazing meals we had, but I was never disappointed in any dish. Each restaurant we went to offered a red sauce or green sauce that would make an atheist believe in a god.
We spent one of our afternoons exploring every inch of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. At the gift shop I picked up Joan of Arc and St. Christopher medallions, discussing road trips and desert adventures with the nuns. One sister shared how in her youth, she and a friend traveled along the same journey she had read about in one of her favorite books. Her tale seemed to have been before she was called to the cloth and that only increased the intrigue. Seriously, one of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people and hearing their stories. I hope when I leave this earth, I’m not just filled with my own story but bits of pieces of hundreds of stories.
My only disappointment from our entire time in Santa Fe was that I never had the opportunity to check out the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Every time we tried to go, the doors were closed, bad timing. I did, however, take as many pictures from the outside as possible, yet it doesn’t heal the pain from missing out on the exhibition they had at the time.
Driving through Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado helped to open my eyes to the circumstances that Native Americans have been put into as a consequence of historic decisions.
As I’m sharing about Santa Fe and with Thanksgiving this week, I can’t help but remark on the double edge sword this national holiday has. After hundreds of years, this holiday has been watered down to represent family and gratitude. In grade school, it’s an opportunity to introduce the history of Native Americans to young children. It’s to honor the coming together of the pilgrims and indigenous people, but we all know life wasn’t all kumbaya for the Native Americans afterward. So with that said, hindsight twenty-twenty of course the English shouldn’t have come over to America raping, pillaging, and stealing land from Native Americans. Yet, at that time of the world – unfortunately, that’s how things functioned. Countries and tribes either fought with each other or traded with each other, it seems now a days the only reason we aren’t all fighting is because we’re trading, but I digress. This Thanksgiving as we do surround ourselves with our loved ones and reflect on the blessings in our lives, let us acknowledge that although we can’t change the past, we should try to rectify the sins of our forefathers by not committing the same arrogant atrocities again.
Desert Trip was a crazy experience. Once again Dan and I headed out to Indio to work at the vinyl oasis in the desert. 4 days of camping and festival life is pure exhaustion, but always worth it because of the priceless memories. The amazing thing about Desert Trip was the energy, everyone there felt like they were a part of something greater. A Coachella it can be very self-centered and all about what you’re wearing or who you saw, but at Desert Trip, it was really about experiencing the music and icons that were taking the stage. It was about being a part of music history, and not just a fleeting moment. Below is my Desert Trip diary with a bonus video of my attempt to do a “style” video.
In Desert Trip diary part 2 I share parts of Roger Waters political performance to highlight the artistry of the production, NOT make a political statement. I also share clips of the less political parts of his show. But honestly, his entire performance had a political agenda. He forced his audience to think and feel, even if that feeling was anger cause they completely disagreed with him.
I have NO POLITICAL AGENDA. My agenda is to share cool music, art, and adventures. Please try to put political feelings aside when watching Roger Waters performance and enjoy the spectacle of lights, colors, and an inflatable animal.
Also, I decided to try something new and do an outfit of the day video that is now my blog post bonus video. The outfits are from over the two weekends. Weekend 1 – I had no idea what I was doing. Weekend 2 – I asked Dan to film some more detail shots. Maybe I’ll do more in the future, you can only get better if you keep trying. Don’t let looking like a fool ever stop you from doing something new, embrace the awkward.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m on a mission to tie up all the loose ends of my stories and footage. I want to go into 2017 completely fresh and with a blank canvas. So here are my Coachella Vlogs – 7 months later.
For the last 2 years, Dan and I have worked at the Coachella Record Store together. At this point, I’ve been to 4 different Coachellas, one as a festival attendee and three as a working member of the lower level staff. Both experiences are great, but being staff is definitely a different experience with its perks and disadvantages. Obviously, you don’t get to see every act from beginning to end, as your shift might land in the middle of their set. I’m still upset about missing Ghost of Sabertooth Tiger last year because of a freak inventory glitch that was fixed by the time I returned to the record store.
Since I’m really into vlogging now, I thought it would be great to vlog Coachella but weekend 1 I had no strategy for filming. The wind was terrible, destroying any possible audio and I couldn’t just talk to the camera. I stumbled through capturing clips of the day when I could and creating some sort of story structure. The result is a fumbling mess of footage, that even while editing I had a difficult time seeing the creative vision.
However, weekend 2 was a different story. I had created an outline of how I wanted to tell my Coachella story. I no longer wanted to break it up by day, but break it up by activity. I had more of an idea of the shots I wanted to get and how long to linger on an artist or food item. Then while I edited the footage together I realized it would feel completely unnatural if I didn’t have some sort of voice over describing the scenes. After creating video one, I knew what I wanted to do different in video two. I did my voiceover in one take, I know I flub some words and maybe didn’t fully enunciate – but in all honestly I wanted to finish the story. That’s the thing about working on something 7 months later, it loses its steam. My brain thought it was interesting and wanted to share it, but my heart is thinking about Desert Trip this weekend and strategizing how to film the vlog.
So, what did you learn Dorothy?
I learned that when you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail. Creativity is very spontaneous, but it also flourishes within some sort of structure. Occasionally, there are moments of total creative bliss where things are unplanned and result in a cohesive beautiful piece – but more likely than not, one has to have an idea of what they are doing and can see the final picture. Weekend 2 is a clear result of having an idea of what I wanted to create. Weekend 1 is a total rough draft. Both videos are this clear distinction of progress and growth that can be used for a metaphor for life. I know I see everything as a metaphor for life.
So why don’t you go back and fix Weekend 1?
One, I just don’t want to spend the time on it. I don’t want to get lost in the correction and perfection of one video at the expense of new stories. And second, in life, you don’t get to go back into your awkward phase and change it. You have to live through the awkward. I can’t go back to my High School self and tell her that you can get blow dries at the hair salon for $20 bucks on picture day, or that you could pull style inspiration from the sixties and feel way more confident in clothes. Nope, I have to look back and see my poofy hair plus sweatshirt and dixies phase for what it is – uncomfortable and awkward.
I’m so happy these videos are complete. I’m so happy to cross off Coachella vlogs on my list of videos to upload. I’m so happy to see myself moving forward and learning more about storytelling with each video. I’m excited that I’m finding my voice in the void. I’m happy that people are finding me and sticking with me despite my awkward phase. My final summation is that weekend 2 learned from weekend 1 and I strive to always have that awareness throughout my life.
Marfa, TX – October 25, 2014 / DAY 24 of #ontheroad1014
We drove into Marfa’s number one hideaway El Cosmico at 10:05pm. I’d been on the phone with the receptionist earlier in the evening inquiring about lodging. There was a wedding in town and everything was booked but we could pay the $10 service fee and sleep on the property using their amenities. We hadn’t packed a tent for this road trip, so we decided to just sleep in our car in the El Cosmico parking lot. Dan parked the car and I ran to the office as the receptionist I had been talking to was locking up, operating hours were 7am-10pm. She was really friendly and just told us to pay in the morning as the register had been closed out, and then pointed to where the restrooms were located. I returned to the car and explained what was up to Dan. Some friends we made in Austin were playing that night at a bar in town, so we drove over there.
It was a dark night in Marfa and we had been driving for over 8 hours, tired but ready to see what Marfa’s night scene had to offer we enjoyed our time by the smoky fires of Lost Horse Saloon. The owner and patch-eyed cowboy, Ty Mitchell caught my attention as he does most visitors, his tall stature and cool confidence inspiring the narrative of short stories one scribbles down on bar napkins. I was exhausted and my personality was not sparkling. It was a night of polite observation, watching a large black lab sniff at the feet of locals and travelers. Interns and artists chatting about their next venture with beer bottles in their hands. The ground was covered in rocks and bottle caps.
The band, Ted the Block, who’s touring schedule had coincidentally aligned with our road trip adventure took the stage and filled the bar with their catchy but experimental songs. A cacophony of melody produced with a grab bag of instruments that resembled the insides of a box labeled music stuff that’s hiding in the garage. After they played we went back to the El Cosmico parking lot and cleaned up for bed. It was cold and thankfully the few blankets we had with us, combined with filling the car with hot air before settling in for sleep, cocooned in a warm bubble. Yet, my mind didn’t want to rest and I repeatedly woke up in the passenger seat uncomfortable. On one of my hours of waking I noticed the sun was soon going to rise, so I woke up Dan and suggested we go and watch the sunrise from a hammock we’d spotted earlier. Grabbing our blanket we went to the hammock and cuddled under the tree, watching the golden sun rise above the horizon. It’s my number one favorite moment of the entire road trip.
We paid for our stay at El Cosmico and explored the grounds before headed to breakfast at Buns n’ Roses, a flowers, gifts, and breakfast joint. The food was ok, the company was delightful. Family members of the wedding that was in town were seated beside us and I enjoyed eavesdropping on the happy conversations. Unfortunately, we missed seeing all the cool day things about Marfa, since we were in the final days of our trip and Dan really wanted us to see the Carlsbad Caverns before going to Santa Fe, New Mexico. We were on a schedule and had to say good bye to the small town before any of the stores or galleries opened. I often dream of returning to Marfa, to unplug and relax for a week or even just a few days. Surrender to my creative energies without the pressure of performance or deadlines breathing down my neck. I see why Marfa is this mecca for artists because it has a calm presence, a blank canvas for your mind to work from.
Last stop before hitting the road again was Prada, Marfa an art installation created in 2005 left to the elements. It’s a good 20 plus minutes from the center of town and on the side of the road, desert all around. We took our pictures, left some postcards, and were on our way. Later that day I actually received a tweet from a fellow traveler who had seen my postcard hidden behind Prada Marfa.
Being behind on content, especially when it comes to travel is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it forces me to revisit my adventures and look back fondly on them in a cloud of nostalgia. A curse, because as I edit photos and video footage I see the difference between my skill now versus then. A curse, cause I’m constantly dipping into the past and that’s not very healthy when it comes to being happy in the present. A curse, cause new memories are being layered on top of the old ones and distilling information into a new story.
Next up on my content calendar for YouTube and my blog was when I visited Iselton, the hometown of my Bachan. I was incredibly close with my Bachan, and was proposed to with her ring. Earlier this summer I went on a pilgrimage to Tule Lake concentration camp where she was detained during WWII for being Japanese. As I edited the footage from my 2015 Pacific Northwest road trip headed for Iselton, I ended up capturing Mt. Shasta on film. At that moment when filming the mountain and scolding Dan for trying to take a picture and drive at the same time, I had no emotional attachment to that mountain. Now, in 2016 after going on the pilgrimage, I see that mountain as a landmark for the hundreds of Japanese who were shipped off to Tule Lake, completely lost and confused as to what may lay ahead.
Iselton is a rundown small town that holds historical significance as one of the first thriving Japanese and Chinese communities pre-World War II. I found a fascinating paper on Iselton that I’ll link to here, as it will highlight the history of the town much better than I could. We went to Iselton looking for a building that could possibly be my O-Jichan’s (great grandfather’s) boarding house and soda shop. A few buildings were pointed out to us as potential sites, but nothing confirmed. On one side of main street was the formerly Chinese neighborhood and the other side was the Japanese side. Today the Japanese side is falling apart, while the Chinese side has a new museum and a few of the buildings are newly renovated. But mostly this little main street was a shadow of its former self, families now using the store fronts as housing.
We fortunately had the opportunity to walk around main street with a board member of the Iselton historical society, and she graciously answered as many of my questions to the best of her ability. Sadly, I didn’t film any footage of our tour. Honestly, I just felt too uncomfortable to film. Now, I’m disappointed with myself as all the details of our time there has now fallen through the cracks of my memory. I should have at least recorded audio –something to remember for next time.
Also in my vlog I remark on how I found my Bachan’s records of being at Tule Lake. I had completely forgotten about that and I’m not entirely sure what records I found. But yesterday, my mother did send me my Bachan’s official Tule Lake records; documents that include medical history while at the camp and a letter of recommendation to her “Americaness” from a former employer.
The past can be painful but it’s powerful, it lays the foundation for who we are and who we will become. I’ve now seen the hometown of my Bachan and my Grandpa (my Dad’s father). I’ve seen how these once middle class vibrant towns have been beaten down by time. I’ve seen the metaphorical dirt in which the seeds of my story was planted and how my family has grown, following the line and realizing where I am on this tree is very far from where it originated. As I dip into my own past adventures, seeing where I’ve been and who’ve I’ve met along the way, I’m reminded I am growing and living my best life. Day to day I can become restless, anxious, frustrated by the present. But if I’ve learned anything from my adventures it’s that time waits for no one. Time will pass anyways and it’s what we do with time that shapes our present and future. It’s how we experience every minute, every hour, every day that adds up to the sum of our life. It’s not just the roadside attractions and destinations that make up the memory, but the in between parts to and from places as well.
I was going to do a separate post just outlining my thoughts about my plans from now till 2017, but I think it’s more fitting to put it here. Since I’m talking about time, the past and present etc. I obviously have trouble with past content versus posting in the present. Publishing a story that happened 2 weeks ago is completely acceptable, 2 months ago sure why not, but 2 years ago just seems lazy. And I have a lot of feelings when it comes to completely abandoning stories that I have every intention of sharing, even though it’s not even remotely current. So I post with a non-existent timeline that may be confusing. and press publish with an attitude of “Hey it’s me take it or leave it” (awkward smile). I want to be more present for my blog and in my life. So between now and the end of year. I will be finishing the stories for my 2014 road trip, completing all the 2015 PNW roadtrip blog posts and videos, and finally getting to a few other miscellaneous adventures that are taking up space on my hard drive. Then in 2017 I start fresh. I have a 7 day turn-around, no more than 14 depending on external circumstance. My adventures in “real time”, then I can stop dipping into the past and instead relish in the present.
New Orleans haunts me. My experience there was good, yet I feel my time there is unresolved. I left a piece of me in New Orleans, and I want to return in order to explore and understand the city better. New Orleans is a living breathing city, it possesses a strong spirit. I came to a deeper understanding of my spiritual self while on the road, and in New Orleans it was challenged. The empath in me was beaten down and I’d like to return stronger. I believe New Orleans is one of the darkest and most vibrant cities I’ve ever been too. New Orleans (not Nashville) is music city, rhythm and melody flows out of the people there, from the man sweeping up trash on the sidewalk to a brass band in the middle of Jackson square. Jazz music rides on the wind in the French quarter and there is someone humming not too far from you.
Sadly, I wasn’t very good at taking pictures while in New Orleans – probably another reason why I’d like to return, but we did all the touristy things! We went on an alligator tour and fell in love with the scaly cuddly reptiles. Ate our way through the French Quarter ordering a little something here and there. Explored the St. Louis Cathedral, where I prayed and through some holy water on Dan. Stopped by Café Du Monde to enjoy fresh beignets and coffee before taking a long nap at our hotel the Maison Dupuy. At Dan’s request, we went on a ghost tour, Lord Chaz’s ghost and vampire tour to be exact and it pierced my soul. The stories we heard left me mourning for the sad souls of the past, and when Dan talked in his sleep that night – I ignored him and pretended I was asleep. On the bright side, our tour guide Alexander was amazing and we enjoyed talking with him post tour. My favorite part of traveling is meeting new people, so getting to know him and his Native American history was one of my favorite aspects of visiting New Orleans. The next day we went to the St. Louis Cemetery (1) in the morning and had lunch in the Garden District so I could see Anne Rice’s old home. I’ve been a fan of Anne Rice since I was in the first grade and fascinated with vampires until Twilight killed the allure.
In our last few hours in New Orleans, we roamed around Frenchman street waiting for The Spotted Cat to open. We’d been told that was the place to go for good music and we didn’t want to miss out on it. We had to leave New Orleans for Houston by 6pm, and the bars on Frenchman didn’t open til 5pm. I enjoyed a delicious bowl of jambalaya at The Praline Connection as an early dinner and then we killed some time at the Louisiana Music Factory record store. I was so thankful that we had waited till The Spotted Cat opened because the moving and powerful voice of Sarah McCoy washed away the sadness within me, and her band The Oopsie Daisies filled me up with the bright light that comes from unadulterated passion and art.
We drove away from New Orleans on an incredible high, headed for Texas where I finally felt a real peace within me. Texas is where the seed to who I am now was planted, but New Orleans was where the soil was tilled.
Most of my photos are from the alligator swamp tour.
I think I was too captivated by the city to remember to look like a tourist.